"Doesn't that hurt your back?" "He's too old for you to carry him that way." "Make him walk!" "You're going to spoil him."
When we moved to the woods from the city two months ago, I was expecting a slower pace of life. Maybe a small town feeling in the little grove we live in. What I was not expecting was the amount of slightly hostile curiosity I've gotten from my new neighbors when they see me wearing my 12 month old around the grove.
It started the day we moved in. I had Gunne Bear on my front in a Mei Tai while I directed movers with our stuff. As the day wore on, I slapped a sun hat on his head and sang to him until he fell asleep against me. When new neighbors came by to introduce themselves, they seemed surprised to see my 10 month old napping this way. "I'm a kangaroo" I told them jokingly. They didn't seem to get it.
Two days later a gas leak drove us out of the house, again at nap time. This time I used the Moby, wrapped him up and walked down to the beach. I met another new neighbor who expressed surprise that I could tolerate having him on me this way. "I'm one of those hippy-crunchy-granola baby wearer types you read about," I tried joking again. No dice.
My neighbors mounted a not so silent campaign. They stop their cars when they see us walking to ask me pointedly if carrying him on my back hurts. They have reacted in horror when I walk straight into the pond with him on my hip in my special ring sling. I've tried being kind and educating. I've tried being blunt, "If this hurt, do you think I'd be doing it?"
My neighbors and I have reached an impasse. I have no idea why the sight of a woman wearing her toddler annoys them so much, but I have no intention of stopping. I plan on wearing him as long as it's comfortable and beneficial to us both, and if that's another two or even three years, then so be it. Of course in two or three years, we hope to have another little one, so my neighbors may well be treated to the sight of a baby wearing mama for the next 6 years.
Has anyone else encountered such strange animosity? Have any suggestions on how to handle it, short of recruiting hundreds of baby wearers to march through the lanes of our grove? I could use some advice!